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Thread: Restoring a cedar strip boat

  1. #1
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    Default Restoring a cedar strip boat

    I have just purchased an 1960's era 14' Richardson boat for restoration, complete with the original 33HP 2-stroke motor. Not to be confused by the Richardson cruisers built in NY, I believe this one was built in Meaford, Ontario, Canada. It is a cedar strip with oak ribs built very much like the ones from Peterborough Canoe Company. The hull is in reasonable shape and from initial inspection the ribs are all intact. The seats and deck need a lot of work and possibly outright replacement.

    I plan on restoring it for use to tour around smallish lakes and rivers, take the kids water skiing, and fishing. It will spend the majority of it's time on a trailer since I don't have easy water access.

    The original boat was the traditional design with no epoxy or fibreglass, just well-fitting cedar that leaked like a sieve until the wood swelled. Which worked well if it was docked by a cottage all summer, but not so well for me.

    Question is this: What is the best way to deal with waterproofing the hull? While I want to bring this boat back to it's former glory topsides, I would rather have a waterproof hull than the original. I have experience with the West system epoxy and fibreglass, is that the way to go?

    thanks
    mike

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Hi mike and welcome to the forum......Great to have you onboard!!
    I have'nt had any experience with fiberglasing hulls that had already been in use (and surely not any that's been subjected to water for 50 plus years.Last winter I designed and built a 16'-2" stripper .That was my first experience with fiberglasing and except with some problems caused by cold temps (in my shed),the whole thing worked out great!.
    ....so I don't know what to suggest.
    If it was my boat and I really wanted to encase it in epoxy, the very first thing I would do is make sure and certain that the complete boat is absolutely 100% dry.get it in a heated basement or the roof of a shed and leave it there for as long as it takes.You can buy one of those needle type probes that measure the amt of humidity (water) in wood.Not sure what they're called. I'd try and get the moisture content down to at least 12%....8 would be better.
    Clean her up and sand untill the wood is practically in original condition and you should be good to go.

    good luck !!!! ....hope this was some help.

    Martin

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    I really suggest the Nick Schade book on strip plank construction. A lot of useful info for you in there.

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Quote Originally Posted by capefox View Post
    I really suggest the Nick Schade book on strip plank construction. A lot of useful info for you in there.
    Thanks, that book looks quite good. Any idea how it compares with Ted Moore's "Canoe Craft" book? I used that as a bible to build a canoe a few years ago.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    I ended up buying Don Husack's video on how restore a Cedar Strip boat, it's quite good and makes me feel a bit more confident about what I'm getting into. Seems that most of these boats end up with fibreglass bottoms due to their age.

    Also to correct earlier information, it was built in Lakefield, not Meaford. It appears a Jack Richardson, former GM of the famous Peterborough Canoe Company, bought Lakefield boats and produced boats under the Richardson name.

    On to my question... among other things, both the inner stem and the keel need to be replaced. Don doesn't cover this in his video, and I'm wondering on how to proceed. I think I can replace the keel without affecting the integrity of the boat if I carefully support it while the keel is out. But replacing the stem... is there a risk that the sides fall away when I take the inner stem out? Any suggestions on what to do here?

    thanks!
    mike

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Quote Originally Posted by mhart View Post
    Thanks, that book looks quite good. Any idea how it compares with Ted Moore's "Canoe Craft" book? I used that as a bible to build a canoe a few years ago.
    If it's edge-nailed it shouldn't fall apart when you go after the stem. If the strips are fastened with metal you'll have to peel the glass back to get them out.
    If you want to reglass you'll have to peel the old stuff off. If it's glassed with epoxy heat will help you get it off. If it's done with polyester you'll probably have to grind it off.

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    I got the impression that there was no glass at all. Glassing this sort of boat is both a much more tricky project than glassing a cedar strip/fiberglass canoe, and also pretty much kills any antique/historical/resale value it had - so it's not a job to be taken lightly. A fiberglass skin will not bridge any gaps (including possible tack head dents). The resin drains through the gaps, leaving what looks a lot like screen wire. It is then very difficult to fill and make these spots leak-proof. All those spots would need to be filled with something before you could fiberglass the hull.

    Since the boat isn't likely to get a lot of abuse, I'd probably cover the outside with heat-shrunk aircraft Dacron. It's light, reasonably strong and could later be removed/replaced without trashing the boat. If I wanted to try to maintain the wood look instead, the safest bet is probably Life-Calk or similar goo-in-a-tube in the planking seams.

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Thanks Todd and Chuck. There is no glass currently, it's still the traditional cedar.

    I'm very torn about putting fibreglass on it at all, and understand what I'm doing to the historical value. And I realize this subject can cause heated debate Unfortunately I think the boat is in rough enough shape that to make it sea-worthy without fibreglass, I'd essentially be replacing all the planks below the water line in addition to most of the ribs, in which case lighting a match might be a better solution. So without replacing most of the boat, fibreglass seems to be a middle ground in keeping some of the historical value, and keeping it in the water for the next few decades. I'll investigate the Dacron idea though, that sounds very interesting.

    From what I've seen and what Don Husack recommends, is those who do add glass go up to the spray rails, essentially the water line. Most similar boats for sale in this area have had that treatment.

    The stem is edge nailed, I will start carefully removing the nails and see what happens.

    Thanks!
    mike

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Everything I know about edge-nailed consruction came from this article which is, fortunately, on-line today. Hope it helps.
    http://www.svensons.com/boat/?p=Utility/DollyVarden

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Mhart,

    While you have what sounds like a nice runabout from an interesting era, I think that the historical value of this particular boat is minimal, at best.

    Go ahead and sheath the bottom with epoxy and your favorite fabric. You'll be glad you did. You'll have a boat that's safe enough and dry enough for intermittent use. Get the boat out of the weather for several weeks or months, if you can, so it can dry out, and go for it.

    Jamo

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Ill weigh in on this one as I recently bought a strip built 27' sloop built in 1964. The planking is African Mahogany edged cove and nailed glue with resorsinal . She is in the water and does not leak below the waterline. There are some glue failures above the waterline. She leaks a bit when healed. The gentleman who surveyed her for me (he is experienced in strip and cold molded construction he also does seaworthy certification for West Pac) recommended that I epoxy the hull with out glass cloth. This will re glue the failed seams and act as a moisture barrier. I still haven't decided what I am going to do. I do need to completely strip the topsides as a start. The West system epoxy gentleman cover the process it one of their publications I believe it is "wooden boat restoration"

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    After taking out the stem and inner keel (mostly with gentle prying and cutting nails where I could reach them), I've decided that all the ribs need to be replaced. I started counting and was up to replacing 36 of 50 with a few more questionable, and it no longer made sense to try to save any of them. Actually it's simpler, since I'm replacing the keel, stem and ribs I don't have to try to match the original rib dimensions.

    Question for anyone familiar with the design of these boats... the inner keel lays over top of the ribs, with holes drilled out to allow the ribs to pass through it. What I can't tell anymore because of the condition of the ribs and keel, is how tight should the ribs be in the keel? Should there be some room for expansion, or water movement, or just reasonably snug? Below is a picture the back end of the stem where it meets the keel (the stem cracked off with barely any effort). The original ribs are 7/8" wide and 7/16" thick.



    Another question, there's a layer of some type of cloth between the keel/ribs and the planks. Anyone know what that is, and if it's necessary to replace it?

    I've more pictures posted on http://www.gybe.ca if you're interested.

    thanks
    mike

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Sleep with one eye open.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Ya about that... I found out a bit more about the manufacturer, even though Google thinks it's Richardson Boats in Meaford, it was actually built by Rilco Industries under the name of Richardson (by a former GM of the famous Peterborough Boats). So calling them isn't going to give me any answers.

    Any ideas?

    cheers
    mike

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    HMM,too bad.I should have looked at the earlier post about NOT Meaford.
    My Peterborough had the ribs in the keel like that,too.
    If I remember correctly,they just fit nicely,not loose or tight.

    I suppose you saw this?

    http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/d...8053&R=2108053

    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Mike, this looks like a terrific project. Please keep us posted on your progress? I am working on a smaller boat with very similar construction not far from you

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    I will be interested to watch your progress. Any further thoughts on epoxying the bottom? I have what may be a 14' Peterboroughand am trying to make the same decision. I have built 2 encapsulated strip boats and I love the results but this one can't be encapsulated due to the ribs. Epoxy and cloth (vectra because i read it expands better? Dynel?) will likely go on the outside maybe CPES inside? The more I read, the less sure I get....
    Last edited by junichi; 01-23-2015 at 11:16 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    I got the impression that there was no glass at all. Glassing this sort of boat is both a much more tricky project than glassing a cedar strip/fiberglass canoe, and also pretty much kills any antique/historical/resale value it had - so it's not a job to be taken lightly. A fiberglass skin will not bridge any gaps (including possible tack head dents). The resin drains through the gaps, leaving what looks a lot like screen wire. It is then very difficult to fill and make these spots leak-proof. All those spots would need to be filled with something before you could fiberglass the hull.

    Since the boat isn't likely to get a lot of abuse, I'd probably cover the outside with heat-shrunk aircraft Dacron. It's light, reasonably strong and could later be removed/replaced without trashing the boat. If I wanted to try to maintain the wood look instead, the safest bet is probably Life-Calk or similar goo-in-a-tube in the planking seams.
    All true. In addition, if you let any water sit in the boat, the skin will keep it from drying out, and it will rot. You will need to store it dry and keep it covered.

    There is a way to mitigate a lot of this without adding a lot of weight, but it is more work. You will still need to store it dry. A single layer of 6 oz plain weave 3733 cloth will do exactly what Todd said it will do. 3 layers of Style 2113, 2 oz cloth will probably not have any pinholes, but will still have a number of weak 'blisters' where it bridges any gaps. If you are planning to paint the outside of the boat, the appearance issue goes away, and some ugly looking options are available.

    If you work quickly and lay up 3 layers of light cloth in one go with a slow hardener, this should work. 14 feet is not that big, and with two people working, it can go pretty fast. A thick layer of slightly thickened resin filled with micro-balloons will fill a lot of cracks and dents. A handful of milled glass or microfibers might help bridge. Instead of sanding, cleaning the blush, drying. etc, start gassing before it stiffens up. Don't try to be too neat, just quick. The first layer of cloth will take care of the lumps and push the filled resin into the cracks. We are talking small cracks. (Any big ones need thick schmutz gobbed in quickly just before coating with the thinned stuff, or cured and faired if they are too big.) The neat (unfilled) resin used on the cloth will thin the filled layer and let you smooth out the bumps. With care, you can get a smooth glass layer over a fair sized divot full of thickened resin.

    If you are careful, you won't use any more resin (weight) than you would with a single 6 oz layer of glass. 6 oz is rougher and takes a lot more resin to fill, which adds weight and consumes resin.

    I like phenolic microballoons, but glass is fine. Phenolic is a ghastly purple that needs to be hidden. West 410 filler may swell and print through when it gets hot, but if you aren't looking for an automotive finish, it is OK, if a little spendy.

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    I'm still in the stage of replacing ribs, due to other priorities it's going slower than expected. But then, it's a hobby so that's ok. I've posted a few pictures on my blog at www.gybe.ca if you're interested.

    I'm replacing all the ribs. When I started counting the ones that needed replaced I was up to about 80% of them, so I decided that while I was at it, I may as well replace them all. I have about twelve full ones left to do, and then all the half ribs at the front. Why half? At a certain point near the front there's no way to slide a rib under the keel because of the angles involved, so they'll butt up under the keel and stop there.

    As for epoxy, I'm planning on a clear fibreglass/epoxy coat on the outside of the hull using the West system, which is what I used on my cedar-strip canoe. I'm a bit concerned about the strength of the half ribs in the front so the fibreglass should give it a bit of extra strength. This is entirely based on conjecture and opinion and my experience with one canoe. A bit of red paint on the bottom and it'll look great. But as MN Dave said, the boat will have to be stored dry or it'll rot. Of course I'm completely open to other opinions and advice.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Seems to me the old way was thick varnish between the strips? Wondering what would be a good equivalent between the strips filler/sealer instead of glassing the bottom.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    I'm actually in the middle of a similar situation my self. I'm finishing the restoration of a 1946 Old Town Ocean boat 16', this was a project my dad and I started 15 years ago and since my father has passed. So there are a few things that I have questions about, the main one is that I'm pretty sure he didn't use any fiberglass cloth on the bottom. (Now when we got the boat some one had try to do a restoration and used fiberglass cloth and resin that we peeled off.) To my knowledge we only used west systems 410 and faired out the bottom and painted it and applied several coats of epoxy on the inside. The big question is should I be concerned that there isn't any cloth on the bottom?

    Bcronk

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    First let's establish what type of cedar strip construction this is. Many if not all of the responders to this post assume standard edge fastened cedar strip, it appears to me that this is not that type of cedar strip. A good example are Peterborough boats essentially this is rabbetted edge carvel planking.
    So next time someone from the Ontario Lakes region posts about a cedar strip boat consider that they are likely talking about light rabbetted edge carvel planking, NOT standard strip planking!! Rant over. Yes it does make a difference!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    http://www.gieslerboats.ca/Images/wherryConst.jpg

    This is the type of construction that I am certain the Original poster has in the boat he is referring to.
    Most responders are replying about standard edge fastened strip planking, it definitely does not require the extensive array of ribs that rabbetted edge carvel planking requires.
    The Giesler site has recommendations on Fiberglassing their boats in their FAQ section, although it appears that they expect that to happen when the boat is fairly new.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Understood... Yes this would be a 3/8" bead and cove style.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Wow I started this thread in 2013. I'm rebuilding the interior now (update with pics over here) and now have a power question. The old motor wasn't worth repairing, so I'm in the market for a motor. I'm thinking of buying new, as my engine repair skills are non-existent. The original motor was a 33HP 2-stroke, and I learned recently it was bored out at some point and 40hp was speculated, enough to pull an adult water skier. I am not really interested in skiing or pulling a tube (well I am but I don't really trust this boat to handle that stress) just day trips, fishing and camping. A new Suzuki or Yamaha 20hp weighs around 100 pounds, lets me get into some of the bigger lakes in Algonquin Provincial Park (limited to 20hp) and prevents my kids from being tempted to take it out skiing or tubing. But is that going to be enough? Would love to hear your opinion. What would you buy?

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Looks like you’re doing a very nice job on the rebuild, she looks great.

    I’m wondering why you’d want to limit the capability of the boat by putting on a smaller engine? While you are rebuilding her you can easily set her up to cope with whatever stress you think a bigger engine might push into the boat - if she could handle it before the glassing that you have done will only make her stronger and you could quite easily add some stiffeners to the transom if that concerns you. Personally I’d be sticking with what it’s capable of carrying and managing the kids, rather than limiting what you can do with the boat once you have it on the water.

    I tend to think the most stress on the transom is when the boat is on the trailer bouncing around on the road with the weight of the engine hanging off it, so once you have set it up to cope with that you shouldn’t have any problem with what it can cope with in the water.

    If it’s underpowered it just becomes a picnic boat/put-put - I don’t know what age your kids are but at some stage you may well want to ski or tube behind it and to be able to teach the kids to ski. At the very least it will make it more sellable at a later date if you set it up for that broader appeal and versatility from the outset.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a fan of Yamaha over Suzuki because I’ve had such good service out of Yamaha on commercial vessels that get substantial use (an island resort in the Whitsundays, Oz). At one stage one of my staff convinced me to switch to Suzuki and the few that we tried didn’t fare anywhere near as well so I ditched them pretty quickly and went back to Yamaha.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Beautiful job! I have just started a similar project on a 79 Giesler. I also have to replace many ribs. I’m wondering how you managed to re shape the boat while bending in the new ribs? Did you not have to use the planking as a sort of form to bend the rib to?

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Skuce View Post
    Beautiful job! I have just started a similar project on a 79 Giesler. I also have to replace many ribs. I’m wondering how you managed to re shape the boat while bending in the new ribs? Did you not have to use the planking as a sort of form to bend the rib to?
    Thanks, I love how many builders from Southern Ontario are here! I’d love to see some pictures of your boat.

    I first replaced every other rib so that the original ribs kept the shape of the hull using the planking as the form to bend the new ribs in, and then replaced the other half of the ribs with the new ones keeping the shape. Whether I successfully kept the original shape... not sure, but it still looks good to the eye. If you’re referring to the twist in the boat (I don’t think I mentioned it here but it has a twist from front to back almost as if the motor torqued it or it dried twisted when hanging for 15 years) I didn’t explicitly try to remove it. When I fibreglassed the bottom it straightened out mostly just by virtue of sitting upside down on a flat frame. I think about 50% of the twist is still there but it’s not enough to affect anything and I’m probably the only one that’ll notice.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Thanks for the reply! I have yet to figure out the photo thing but I’m sure it’s not too difficult and I will post some.
    One other question I had was what method did you use to clamp the new ribs into position? Did you nail them as you bent them into place? Could it conceivably be done with only one person? I read how you figured out a cinching method but it appears that the copper nails on my boat are just straight. Thanks again!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    I needed two people to bend the ribs. The inner keel was in place with the holes drilled through, and when a rib was ready my wife and I would slide it under the keel and then clamp it in place against the gunwales. We found that if we over-bent the rib, that is bent it further than it needed to go, and then applied enough pressure downwards, it would curve neatly and the clamp was enough to hold it in place until we got around to nailing it, sometimes hours later. Sliding it under the keel was a challenge, the ribs expanded slightly and the in some places especially as you get close to the front there's enough of a V that made it tricky. I usually rounded the front of the rib so it would slide better, and had a pair if vice grips ready to grab and pull the rib plus the clamps ready go. You only have a minute or two of working time after you pull a rib out of the steamer so you have to move fast. You definitely don't have enough time to nail it in as you go, but I don't know if you could do it with one person even with just clamping it, I never tried it. We fought with some ribs to get them under the keel that definitely took two people. If you could manage to keep the shape of the boat without the inner keel, then you'd have an easier time of it, but I couldn't figure out a way to do that.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Nice work
    curious - what paint did you use on that very red bottom
    also what kind of varnish did you pick

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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Quote Originally Posted by Pond Hopper View Post
    Nice work
    curious - what paint did you use on that very red bottom
    also what kind of varnish did you pick
    The red (I love that colour) is a polyurethane topside paint I picked up from a local marina. I have no prior experience with it, I just asked for the brightest red for the bottom of the boat. For varnish I use Epifanes Clear Varnish. I’ve used it on my canoe and love working with it, and I’m using it throughout on this boat as well. It’s quite expensive but worth it. I just got in two more litres from Noah’s Marine.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Restoring a cedar strip boat

    Sorry I missed this thread earlier. We've a 2000 16-foot Giesler French River with fiberglass on the bottom. That works great for keeping the water out when she goes in the water. Alas, she was stored overwinter with some water in the bottom and developed rot in 22 ribs. We restored it last year by taking it to Gerry Giesler and writing a check.

    Our boat is powered by a 20HP Yamaha. Yamaha because there's a dealer within range of where we keep her in Quebec. Used to be a 2-stroke with a bolt-on engine lift. The lift died twice so now it's a 4-stroke with a built-in lift. Gets around just fine at good speed with 2 adults, a big dog, plus all the supplies for a beach grill & picnic. Four adults and the dog are OK, too.

    With an adult driving and a spotter it's plenty fast enough for pulling a tube - though we use some metal boats at our disposal for that. Shouldn't be an issue for the boat, though, as the stresses are concentrated in the transom - to which both the motor and the tube would be attached. With the 20HP there's no way it has the power to pull a skier.

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